I have seen lot of discussion around best practices to allow user to do a sort of on a column in a table/grid. However what if we don't want to use the table but still like to keep the sort option?

Let me give you an example. Assume we have below list:enter image description here

Can you think of a good approach to enable sort on name, user id and role?

3 Answers 3


Just off of the top of my head I would suggest reading-order would be a good way to go. In other words you treat the grid as a single list that happens to wrap over several lines - when ordering by name, for example, you start with the 'A's at the top left corner and end with the 'Z's in the bottom right.

If you need any other form of sorting beyond a simple linear sort (eg. if you need to cross reference two different value types) then you will need to go back to a table to allow for multiple axes

  • tnx Martin. I was thinking about the same thing, but that could be the only the default behavior. What if, we like to have an advance sort in the future, so that on demand, user can sort the list based on role or email address.
    – user48903
    Oct 10, 2015 at 1:14
  • The list would still behave the same way as long as there is only one sort criteria at a time. EBay offers several different sort criteria from a drop down but you can still only sort by one criteria at a time. Oct 10, 2015 at 6:40
  1. You can provide a simple "Sort By" control at the top, with 3 hyperlinks: "Last Name, User ID, Role".
  2. Display the grid left to right
  3. I would bold the primary/initial sort value in bold. So for example, bold the name for everyone, so that it is visually differentiated.

Just came up with below design and I though I can share with other folks. Also thank you so much for awesome comments! enter image description here

As you may notice, here I combined filter and sort together. The dropdown on the left hand side allows the user to sort the list based on the selected attribute. For example, here we are sorting based on Role. Also we can allow the user to filter the user based on a specific role.

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